THE VISION - The dream was always to have a gentleman’s ranch when we retired. When we pulled in the drive, we had no idea what a beautiful peaceful piece of heaven we were about to experience. A new chapter was about to unfold in a setting we could only imagine. Retirement brought many changes from corporate living, a fast-paced life & career to a quiet, serene, peaceful & laid-back country atmosphere. It was the perfect piece of land to start the new chapter in our lives and create the country living lifestyle we had dreamt of for so long. It has become our sanctuary in a private and natural setting.
When we purchased the property, we knew we would be living in the existing home on the property, that was an especially important feature because we anticipated a long process of building (2 years). As this was a lifelong dream, we knew we wanted to be part of the building process, so we were excited to be able to sit on our covered front porch each morning with our coffee cups in hand and watch the creation from the ground up.
The small home had served well for the original owners but needed some updating. The builder of our main home renovated our new little cottage for us redoing the floors, kitchen, carpet & paint. At 1500 sq ft it is a warm cozy cottage that also has a beautiful 200-year-old majestic live oak in the front yard. As we made our way down to Florida from upstate New York all these amazing qualities of this quaint little cottage made it easy to settle into a new chapter of our lives as we built our dream home.
An existing pavilion started out as first a home for the original owners RV, then a cover for their mother’s tiny home. And finally, it now is a beautiful partially covered deck with a bathroom & screened in porch shaded by live oak trees. Our vision was to host family events & even have it used as a part of a wedding venue. We want people to gather here, enjoy the beautiful nature and scenery, the peace and quiet, but especially one another.
We loved the feel and look of the property from the moment we drove down the driveway for our first look. Live Oaks are so Old Florida and seeing so many majestic old trees inspired us. As we envisioned the lifestyle we wanted to enjoy on this property. The Live Oak became a big part of the ranch’s story. You will find Live Oaks in the gates, hand carved panels at the entrance of the home (out of Live Oak wood) by our cabinet makers father in Colombia, a cabinet in the hall bath hand made by a local black smith with a 3” live oak countertop from the property to finally, a 14’ table planed, mill and finished from our property for family gatherings.
MAIN HOUSE- Each room has its own personality from the rug chosen for it by our interior designer. She had a great vision that began with each of the rugs. The 2 Large Oil Paintings Seen as you walk in is the inspiration for the colors in the home and the “wooded” feel we wanted to achieve. As you enter the Foyer, we wanted to be able to bring the beautiful outside into our home & accomplished this with the 28’ ceilings and large windows looking out to the pool/grotto. There is such a calming & serene feeling bringing nature inside as the first impression of our home is set for our guests. Sharing our home and the beautiful nature surround us was especially important to us.
Granite for the Master Bath/Coffee Bar was purchased shortly after purchasing the property in Orlando (2 years before construction began). The granite created a tranquil, cool, crisp & relaxing spa feel for the entire Master Wing. Granite for the Lanai & Media Room was the inspiration for each of these spaces. It has a leathered finish with a rustic yet elegant feel. The Lanai was designed to accommodate a handmade oak table. This oak table was made from a large Live Oak tree that had fallen many years ago at the entrance of the property. We have a large family and we wanted everyone to be able to sit at this table and enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting. All wood mantels & counter tops are from the property. Keith milled them & our cabinet maker finished them. The Foyer/Living Room beams were inspired by an Architectural Digest magazine we saw during one of our many trips to the ranch. They were handcrafted by a local woodworker from Colombia. A 19th Century 2-piece handcrafted cabinet was purchased at an auction in Citrus, FL. It was Retro fitted by the cabinet maker & black smith with a copper sink and faucet to become the vanity in our powder room.
Interview with the Owners: Keith & Claudia
Agent: What was your vision for the lifestyle and setting that you wanted to create?
Claudia: We wanted a town and country lifestyle. A country setting with close proximity to city life. We wanted the peace and serenity that comes with country living. A closeness to nature: to watch the deer, turkey, hawks - all on our 60 acres. Wanted to grow blueberries; have a garden. Wanted to live among the giant Spanish moss-covered Live Oaks. Wanted a place where our children and grandchildren could roam the trails on the property freely and safely. A place for “toys”: ATVs for trail riding; tractor just because.
Agent: Why did you both choose this property? What initially attracted you to the land?
Keith: The property was large (60 acres) and beautiful with woods, open pasture, trails, small lake, giant live oaks, alive with wildlife.
Claudia: It was perfectly located just out of town but still 15-20 minutes to shopping - grocery stores, medical facilities, etc.
Claudia: We could see the home of our dreams being constructed in a beautiful section of the property. The setting for our new home was everything we had dreamed it would be.
Keith: Claudia and I designed our home to be spacious, comfortable, inviting and work well with our country setting.
Claudia: It was important that our home would be built to “fit” the setting using earth tone colors, stone and design features that drew attention to the fit of the home with its surrounding natural beauty - trees, numerous azaleas, open areas.
Keith: The property had been maintained in the natural state - no logging, no use of pesticides, no hunting allowed, mostly fenced.
Dale: Once you decided to purchase the 60-acre property, what was your plan for building your home?
Claudia: Our plan was to live on the property while the 2-year construction project to build our new home was completed.
Keith: We knew that the new construction process would be about two years, so we completely remodeled the guest cottage that had been built in the 70’s. The entire cottage was remodeled from top to bottom while retaining its country charm. It was really quite comfortable and cozy for the two of us - about 1500 sq ft, 3BR, 2BA, kitchen, dining room, Florida room and large enclosed porch on the front. From this cottage we were able to watch every step of the construction and since we lived on the property, we were there every day for any necessary construction with the builder or subs. We chose to have a highly active and involved role in the construction. The guest cottage has continued to be used by guests and family to this day. It was especially convenient and comfortable for our daughter’s wedding party as her wedding was held on the estate grounds.
Keith: To further our plan to build we interviewed several local builders and chose the top builder in the county - a great reputation for building high end custom estate homes. Tommy Waters builds estate homes for several prominent University of Florida coaches, medical professionals and UF executives
Agent: What was your vision for the look, the feel, and design of your dream home? How did you both arrive at the final design?
Claudia: In the years leading up to our retirement and plan to build our dream home we collected all the best design features from visits to model homes, friends’ homes, magazines, and a lot of original thought about what we really thought would make our new home luxurious, classy, comfortable, and inviting all the while ensuring that it complimented the natural beauty of the property
Claudia: We wanted to create spaces inside and outside our home that we could bring our three children and grandchildren together where we would have fun and enjoy good times together. For example, we created an oversized pool, lanai, and summer kitchen. This space has an exceptionally large table to accommodate 12 people. This table was milled from an incredibly old Live Oak that had been struck by lightning many years ago. We created a grotto in our pool with a waterfall cascading over the top as a fun place for adults and kids as well. The jacuzzi is large enough for 8-10 family or friends. In other examples, we are a sports-minded family and built a media room with kitchenette, half bath, ice machine and four televisions, one of which is a projection 120-inch screen.
Keith: We have friends and family come to our home for an annual oyster roast and seafood feast.
Keith: Our design ideas included soaring ceilings through the home and large hand-crafted beams in the grand foyer and living room. We wanted visitors to our home to approach the front door and feel welcomed with double doors made of African Mahogany and a view through those doors to the high wood beams and at the same time see the waterfall outside in the pool.
Keith: We wanted to showcase the craftsmanship throughout our home. Examples that we are most proud of include: All the woodwork throughout our home was built by an Artisan from Columbia South America. He had a family member who lives in South America hand carve two Live Oak Art pieces outside our front doors; he and his team hand make all cabinets, bookcases, and beams in the foyer, living room, master bedroom, study, media room and Lanai.
Keith: Having retired from the Wine industry we wanted a 1st class wine cellar. The wine cellar was designed in the Tuscany style with arched and barrel ceilings, stone walls brought here from the mid-west U.S. The sink was hand made by a Florida metal artisan and the counter surrounding is sandstone from India. The cellar holds about 2,000 bottles of wine and is climate controlled. We often have a couple join us in our cellar for great wine and hor d'oeuvres.
Keith: As I am a hobby woodworker who also have a sawmill on the property, I milled numerous pieces used throughout our home; fireplace mantle, bar tops, guest bathroom sink tip and a desk. All these pieces were milled from trees that had fallen and would have otherwise been lost to nature - now they live on!